Sermon Epiphany 3 January 21, 2018

Jonah 3:1-5, 10          Psalm 62:6-14             

1 Corinthians 7:29-31            Mark 1:14-20

May these words and our thoughts be acceptable to God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

We get a very clear sense from our readings today that there is a sense of urgency afoot.  Nineveh has got forty days to straighten itself out, thankfully they do.  The early Christians should immediately drop whatever they were doing in their previous lives and get on with their own salvation, thankfully they do.  Jesus realising that John the Baptist’s death puts an urgency on Him to get His crew together, He calls His first four disciples, to become fishers of people  (Mark 1:17)  that is to bring people into the Kingdom.  With the changing times Jesus knew He had no time to lose in starting His ministry.  He knew of His crucifixion and that the Jewish people would be expelled from Israel in the next forty years.  He knew He had to establish a viable Church right away, so He did.

All too often we put off until tomorrow what we should have done today.  It’s understandable in today’s world, there are too many things going on in our lives that need attention right now, otherwise this or that bad will happen, or someone will be disappointed and we just can’t let that happen because we will never hear the end of it.  We feel we have to earn friendship but we really don’t, friendship is like Salvation, it’s there all we have to do is grab onto it.  We can do all sorts of nice things for a person but there is no reason why they cannot just walk away, perhaps saying  “Thank you”  as they go.  Friendship arises when there is an affinity between two people.  It’s not based on how good either of them is, like Salvation, it just is !  And on top of all that feeling we have to earn friendship we have an inner voice that criticises us all the time.  Mine too often says  “Why did you say that ?”  and  “Why didn’t you say that ?”  The worst one is  “What were you thinking ?  You knew that wouldn’t work out !”  My inner voice is perfect, I’m not !

But thankfully we also have common sense.  If oil is on your driveway you take the car to your mechanic.  If smoke is pouring from the oven, you turn it off and take out whatever you forgot about.  Know what, we need to react like that about our spiritual wellbeing too.  Over the last couple of weeks I’ve had a bit of time to think, go over the events of my life, as best as I can remember them, and I found one profound problem.  Now with a lifetime behind me I can see where I fell down on the path, where I took the wrong path, where I had itching ears and listened to a silly voice and sometimes just plain refused to go on to the obvious conclusion.  I am sure many of you can identify with that.  There’s no correcting it, we can’t make mistakes go away, there’s only  “Let’s not do that again, let’s do it right this time !”  That’s how God operates He’s not going to turn the clock back and say  “Do it over”  because as sure as night follows day we will make another but different error.  God in His Wisdom says  “Move on.  Own up to your mistake, repent and accept Jesus’ invitation to follow Him”.  Divine Wisdom knows that’s the only way to do it.  So when you ruminate over your life and are disappointed with yourself, do what God wants.  Say  “That was wrong !  I shouldn’t have done it !  I won’t do that again, I’ve learnt from my mistake and as I forgive myself I ask for divine forgiveness”.  When you come on Sunday’s and say the Prayer of Confession remember that incident and lay it down here, never to be picked up again.  “Move on”.

On to what ?  That’s easy  “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near;  repent, and believe in the good news”.  You’ve done your time you’ve carried your cross all those days when the grind seemed endless.  Now is the time to grab hold of your share of the Kingdom.  You can only do that by being all-in like Simon and Andrew, and James and John.  Now Jesus’ choice of them was not out of the blue.  James and John were cousins of Jesus and Simon and Andrew were their fishing partners.  James and John had probably been waiting for Jesus to begin his ministry.  He was thirty or so and that was the age when religious men went into the world to make their case for God, in the often irreligious world of Israel.  Moreover, Andrew had been a disciple of John the Baptist, who was Jesus’ cousin too.  So when Jesus asked him Andrew immediately said  ‘Yes’.  And we all know Peter he was not going to be left out.  So He too was in hook-line-and-sinker.

Being related seems to be important.  Where then are we related to Jesus ?  We too are Children of God  (John 1:12)  that’s close enough to make Jesus’ our Brother.  But why should we get up and go with Him ?  Well He preached the Good News, John preached only repentance but Jesus preached the Good News and Glad Tidings of the Kingdom of the Messiah, which is not in worldly pomp and splendour, in outward observances, in legal rites and ceremonies, but in righteousness, peace, and joy, and moreover in peace and pardon through the blood of Christ, which we partake here in justification by his righteousness, and in free and full salvation by Him.  And of course He did not just preach it, He lived it, as no one else could.  When we find a leader like that in life we support them and follow them.  Trouble is the halo we give them often tarnishes a bit when we find out they have feet of clay.  Not so with Jesus He is real, the real goods and worthy to be followed, not out that door into the great unknown but followed into our lives and the lives of our families and friends today, not in forty days, the time is always today, now !  Amen.

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